In Mandali you will find products from local producers: olive oil, honey, raki, olives, herbs, essentail oils and olive soap.
All products are produced in small businesses with respect for mother nature or they come straight from the farmer.
In the rural area of Kournas you will discover a variety of flowers and herbs. You can make easy walks in and around the village.
The walking-path "Azilakas Street" will lead you towards the forest with a small river, very old oak trees and the "strawberry trees".
In the center of the village Kournas you will find the local shop "Mandali",
a place where you can smell, taste, feel and discover the real Cretan products.
Barbara, from the Netherlands, opened this shop in 2016 with the aim of making the small traditional village Kournas a bit more lively and to support the local farmers, craftsmen and artists.
In the shop, you can buy products from local farmers, such as olive oil and thyme honey and unique items made by craftsmen, artists, and manufacturers.
You will find one of a kind jewellery, postcards, paintings, candles, mandala gift cards and other small presents that you will definitely enjoy.
In 2018 we finally found 2 donkeys to join us at our botanical walks and on April 3-th 2019 our donkey Cleo gave birth to a donkey girl.
More about our donkeys you can read here.
Information about Kournas village, holiday accommodation, events and activities you can get at Mandali. Barbara will be pleased to help you to make your stay in Kournas unforgettable.
Inspired by nature and made from natural materials are the symbols of the unique artworks and jewellery in Mandali.
I am sure you will love the jewellery made of glass with shells and colliers made from Tagua nuts. The gift-cards, paintings, canvasses and treasure boxes are all unique.
Mandali will stay closed during April.
We stay at home and hope to meet you later
Have a look at the Mandali
videos on YouTube
My name is Barbara, I am from The Netherlands and my husband Arno and I spent a lot of our holidays here on Crete. We traveled all over the island and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, hospitable Cretans, the delicious, healthy food and fine climate.
We visited almost all major towns and villages, attractions and "places-to-be" and every time we discovered special places, we met lovely, exceptional people, and were impressed by all aspects of this beautiful island.
In the southwest of Crete, we organized some walking holidays and in 2010 Arno and I made our dream come true and we moved to Crete. The beautiful green municipality Apokoronas in the prefecture Chania had our preference. We found a house in the village of Kournas. A small, traditional village, just 4 kilometers from the lake Kournas and only 5 kilometers from the north coast, with a sandy beach.
I enjoy the life in the small village Kournas and during my work in tourism, I also noticed that tourists like to visit the traditional mountain villages. But sometimes these visits have some obstacles: where to park the car, what can you do, what is interesting to see there, etc.
So I began to think: the village Kournas might get more visitors and should become a little more "alive and kicking". Visitors should be given the opportunity to discover the daily village life.
With a lot of support (and hard work) from Arno in March 2016 my dream came true and my shop was a fact: "Mandali, local products and more..."
Looking for a name for my shop I choose "Mandali". This word comes from Mandala, it is in the old Sanskrit language and it means circle, connection, community.
The logo, the circle of life, fits it well, I thought. "Mandali" also means a circle of people dancing together.
And ... I like to draw and color mandalas.
I got an idea and with this idea, I got the chance to follow the study "Women Innovators for Social Businesses in Europe" at the ESA (European Sustainable Acadamy) in Drapanos, here on Crete. I learned a lot about starting a social business and slowly my idea became a plan and finally it became a reality.
With my plan Kournas gets more alive and kicking and gives the local people the opportunity to share their knowledge, their talents and their stories.
I would start with opening a shop in Kournas where I can sell the local products, such as olive oil and honey, straight from the farmer and producer. And I can give visitors and tourists information about Kournas: what to do, where to go etc.
In the future I would like to expand the activities in cooperation with the villagers and organize cooking-courses, picking herbs, workshops Cretan dances, helping farmers with harvesting olives, pressing grapes, building a museum with tools, pictures and stories from yesterday etc.
In this way Kournas could become alive and kicking again. And the locals can get the opportunity to share their knowledge, their talents en their stories.
And I would like to bring the donkeys back to Kournas. Last year this wish came through: we bought 2 donkeys and last year we adopted an adult donkey and one of our donkeys gave birth to a foal. Now we have a herd with 4 donkeys.
I am looking forward to meet you at Mandali at the "Story Table"
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Donkeys in Kournas
The local products with the "Kournas" label are coming directly from the farmers and small producers in Kournas and surrounding. I am proud to offer you fair products with high quality for a good price.
Of course you can taste and test all the products, so you know what you are buying.
Crete is famous for the thyme honey and this very tasteful honey you can buy at Mandali.
In Kournas we have several beekeepers who have their beehives in the areas where the thyme is blooming.
You can taste this honey at Mandali.
The Cretan wines are getting more and more wellknown and also in this area you will see a lot of vineyards.
The Red and white wine are very popular, but in the hot summer people also drink the rose wine.
The most famous herb of Crete is the thyme, but there are so much more healthy and tastful herbs growing here. And not only for use in the food, also in a healthy tea it will taste perfect.
Very special are the "Dictamos" and the "Malotira", the Cretan mountain tea.
Just outside Kournas, is the small farm "Lavender Way", where Gill and Derek cultivate the colorful and fragrant lavender.
They produce three types of organic, essential lavender oil and a refreshing aromatic lavender spray.
Looking for items to make the assortment in Mandali complete I have found some special products, made in small businesses here on Crete.
The olive oil "Kournas" is produced in the olive oil factory in the village. The olives are growing near the village and for the farmer and his family the quality of the olive oil is very important. They ensure that the trees and the fruit remain healthy in a natural way, without the use of chemicals.
The traditional drink raki is called "tsikoudia" on Crete and it is distilled from the residues after pressing the grapes.
It is a strong drink, it contains nearly 40% alcohol.
A good raki you can recognize by the taste and flavor of the grapes.
Many people find the raki too strong. But added with fruit, herbs or honey
it becomes a delicious sweet liqueur and it contains less alcohol.
Mandali offers you raki liqueur with honey, with lemon and with coffee.
Crete is famous for its olives and especially in the area of Kournas you will see the olivetrees with the small type "Koronaika" olive. The "Kournas" green olives are preserved with salt, lemon and water and the black olives are preserved with some herbs in salt water.
Natural, handmade olive soaps and skin creams are made by the three ladies of the workshop Fisika in Tavronitis.
All products are handmade with natural ingredients, made with care and have an unique design.
Not typical Cretan, but very tasty is the marmelade, made with the delicious lemons that grow here on Crete.
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The olive oil soap from Eladia is handmade, from the collection of raw materials to their packaging. This mild soap is moisturizing your skin and contains the therapeutic herbs from Crete. We have also 2 soaps for your hair.
Eladia, olive soap
At Mandali I offer you a wide selection of unique products from the skilful hands of local artists and craftsmen. Unique backpacks, decorated candles, paintings, jewelery, gift cards, wooden treasure boxes and other small gifts that you will definitely appreciate.
And if you are looking for a special gift for your friends and relatives, just don't forget to take home a little something for yourself as well.
hand made, original gift cards with envelop, for women, men and
children. Colorful stones with painted mandala and nature motifs.
unique handmade paintings from a local artist, inspired by the beautiful beaches of
made from Tagua nuts, the eco-ivory, every piece is unique.
Colored and natural, small and larger. Made and designed by Icor
small and bigger wooden boxes for your treasures, jewellery or diary.
Unique and beautifully decorated
colliers and bracelets made from glass and inspired by the Cretan beaches and shells.
Made by a local artist
unique, natural necklaces made from the wood of the mulberry trees
Using a good detailed map helps you to discover the real Crete. The walking and hiking maps from "Anavasi" also contain extra information for walkers.
A must have for walkers of the E4 path in the "Cretan Way".
With routes, suggestions for staying overnight and a lot of background information
The Cretan knives play an important role in the Cretan culture. The knives are handmade by "Armenis" and have an engraved Cretan Mantinade (poem)
The postcards from Kournas village and surroundings are unique and designed by Mandali.
With the walkingbooks from "Discover Crete on foot" you can make a lot of walks in the province Apokoronas
Handmade ceramics from one of the oldest potteries on Crete "Tsikalario", is now available at Mandali. Small en bigger bowls, oil lamps and candlelights.
A "friend" with whom you can share all the fun, worries and grief. And who helps to put everything in a row, while the worry beads quietly slip through your fingers.
We choose komboloi made from natural. materials such as wood from walnut. Also wooden bracelets you will find at
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In the small villages of Crete, you will find the friendly hospitality and proud tradition of receiving guests. The Cretans are known for their generosity and their friendly reception of travelers, guests and visitors.
In Kournas you can still experience the simple village life, here you will experience the real Crete. Here you can smell the fresh herbs, you can wander in the olive groves and taste the local products, from olives, olive oil to fresh fruit, wine and raki.
It seems as if time has stood still in Kournas: the men of the village are discussing the news of the day in the kafenion, the women ask each other what they will cook today and the children play safely in the street.
Who makes a walk through the village will see many old and renovated traditional houses. The narrow streets are just wide enough to let pass a donkey. Cars drive on the new, wider roads.
Outside the village you can still see the ladies who pick the herbs and wild vegetables for the daily meal.
Kournas is located 5 kilometers from the beach of Kavros (Georgioupoli municipality) and 4 km from the lake Kournas. Situated at the foot of the mountain Dafnomadaras (1680 meters) the village is safe at a height of nearly 250 meters.
In 1583 Kournas was already mentioned as a village with plenty of activities and the town has played an important role during the Ottoman occupation. In 1866 Kournas was the center of the Revolutionary Government and in 1897 the village was the seat of the Cretan Assembly.
Kournas is a small village that still has the traditional Cretan character:
a small square with a beautiful view and surrounded by a tavern,
a small supermarket, a local shop and of course the statue of a local hero. Mulberry trees and large planetree provide wonderful shade in the hot summer months.
At various places in the village there are beautiful views. You can see
the Almyros Bay, the villages Georgioupolis and Kavros and along the countryside, in the direction of Rethymnon you can see the villages Kastellos, Dramia and Episkopi.
Also the first mountains of the imposing Lefka Ori (White Mountains) are visible from Kournas. In winter and spring the white snow on the mountain peaks and the bluest sky gives us a spectacular panorama.
There are approximately 500 people living in Kournas and in the center you will find a small supermarket, a kafenion, a bakery,
a ouzeri, a shop with local products "Mandali" a ceramics shop and three taverns. There is also a primary school, which is visited by more than 120 children from Kournas and surrounding villages.
Just before the center of the village you will see the community center with a large square and a stage wherein summertime weddings, baptisms, plays, and parties are being held.
Next to the community center there is the football pitch and a children's playground.
Across the playground is the olive oil factory, where every year from November, olives are being pressed.
The Greek Orthodox faith is very important in the life of the Cretans and the church and the many small churches and chapels are being maintained very well by the locals.
In and around Kournas there are 11 churches and the most special, and also two of the oldest Byzantine churches on Crete, are the Agia Irini and the Agios Georgios, built in 1200 AD.
On April 23 is the celebration of the name day of Agios Georgios Church and on May 5, the name day of Agia Irini is celebrated.
Kournas is a year-round lively village: in summer and in winter there is live music in the taverns, in September people press the grapes at various locations in the village and in October it is time to distill the "tsikoudia" (the Cretan raki) in the two "Kazanis"
On August 16 the Community of Kournas is organizing its annual festival on the square of the community center with a performance by the popular musician-singer Nikos Zoiidakis.
On August 29 the villagers celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist, along with friends, family and tourists. On the terraces of the taverns "Babis" and "Kali Kardia" you can enjoy live music and dancing.
So, get on the bus, start the car, grab the bike or motorbike, put on your walking shoes and come to Kournas,
you are welcome !!!
center of the village
If you want to get to know the area and the village a little bit better, then you are welcome at the hikes with one of the donkeys or the botanical walk EXTRA.
You can read more information about this on the page walking
where you can meet donkeys
walking with donkeys
Take a look at our Facebook page for the latest news and pictures
In Kournas are three taverns, where still the traditional Cretan dishes are cooked. From many miles away people come to enjoy the delicious home-made food. Also the locals are regular guests in the taverns, especially on Sunday, when mostly the "kokoretsi" or the "Anti Christo" is on the menu.
In the summer months in almost all the villages you can enjoy the "panagiri", the feast of the village, And also in Kournas there is regularly something to celebrate.
Not only the villagers, but also tourists from the region come to the village to celebrate the feast.
So if you're in the area ... come over and let's celebrate!!!
The first party is on April 23, when the name day of St. Georgios is celebrated in the church with the same name in Kournas. The Papas (priest) of the village is also called Georgios, so you understand that this festival will be celebrated in a good way. After the service, everyone is welcome at the square at the church where the tables and chairs are already in place with the blessed bread, pilaf rice, meat and wine.
On August 16, the annual village-festival is celebrated with a live performance of the famous musician and singer Nikos Zoiidakis. On the square next to the community-centre there is room enough for the hundreds of guests who celebrate this party until the early hours. Like at most of the parties, you can enjoy your meal here and taste the local wine.
Two weeks later, on August 29 the villagers and also many tourists, celebrate the name day of St. John. The festival begins with a service in the church of St. John in the "backyard" of Kournas. In the evening the main street in the village will turn into a big party with plenty of food and drink and of course music and dance.
On the village square, you will find the tavern "Kournas", run by Nikos and Maria Kokolakis; a little further, past the square, you will see on the right side the tavern "Kali Kardia", run by Andreas Anagnostakis and here in front of you are welcome at Babis in his tavern "Babis".
Just beyond the village square, next to the bakery Polenta you will find the ouzeri "Aetofolia" and a little bit more uphill on the same road you can visit the village cafe, "kafenion" from the Piperakis family.
So in Kournas you do not have to be hungry and your thirst can be quenched in many places.
For more than 25 years Maria and Nikos Kokolakis run the tavern "Kournas", better known as "Kanarina". And equally long every summer tourists come back here to greet the family and enjoy the Cretan cooking of Maria and the meat from the grills, Nikos' speciality.
Sometimes the terrace is spontaneously used in the summer months as a dance floor for the famous Cretan dances.
An ouzeri is a cafe where people enjoy a drink whith a small snacks. You may know them: rolled grape leaves, olives, small cheese biscuits, sausages "loukaniko", etc. The ouzeri is run by the family Dramilaris and has the name "Aetofolia" (Eagle's Nest).
Just like the kafenion is this the place where people tell eachother the news, talk about the daily business and share their experiences.
The tavern "Kali Kardia" is a famous name in Kournas. Together with his wife Evangelia, Kosta Anagnostakis opened his tavern in 1959 and from
faraway people came to Kournas to enjoy the traditional Cretan dishes and many delicious homemade specialties such as the "galaktoboureko" and "Kokoretsi".
Since 2013 Kali Kardia is run by Andreas Anagnostakis. Together with the support of his wife Melina and friends the old days revive in Kournas. On the menu are delicious, healthy Cretan dishes, including the "Kokoretsi" (only on Sundays), homemade appetizers and the famous "Salad Kali Kardia" and the lovely desert "galaktoboureko".
The weekend is dedicated to music: local and regional musicians are playing on the terrace in the summertime and in the winter months they perform in the tavern. Usually, the performances start after 21:00, so you have time to enjoy your meal with musical accompaniment.
And of course on those nights people will be dancing the well known "Cretan dances".
For several years the tavern "Babis" is located in front of "Kali Kardia" and lovers of the traditional Cretan cuisine are here at the right address.
The delicious "Salad Babis" and on Sunday the "Antichristo" are just some examples.
At the entrance of his tavern Babis has set up a small museum with special
ancient utensils, the Cretan flag, a large pedigree and much more.
During the quiet winter months Babis is busy making the Cretan cane, the "Katsouna" which is still used by the shepherds.
Tavern "Babis" also organize live music in the summer months and these parties often last until the early hours.
Over 35 years ago, there were as many as 11 kafenions in Kournas!
The last decades a lot of villagers left the village and the kafenion of the Piperakis family is the only one that remained.
But it is not just only a kafenion. It has a wine cellar, a small mini-market with the major daily necessaries, it is the "post office" of the village and here are pressed many thousands of kilos of grapes in September.
The wine from Piperakis is loved and served in many Cretan restaurants and is even exported to many countries all over the world.
The owner of the kafenion, Dimitri Piperakis was formerly the mayor of Kournas, so he knows almost everything and everyone.
In summertime you are welcome to the cosy terrace for a cup of Greek coffee, a beer or a glass of house wine. During the winter a wood stove warms the kafenion and this is the place to be to hear all the news and adventures.
Would you like to know more about Kournas and the real village life?
Almost every day, Arno is making a village-walk and he tells you about the all-day life in Kournas.
More information about this walk you can read here
You won't find large stores where you can shop extensively in Kournas. All year round, practically every day, traders in their cars come to the village to sell their wares: fruit and vegetables, chicken, clothes and shoes, plants, flowerpots and potting soil, bread, carpets, everything is for sale.
And for other purchases, we go to Kavros, or to the cities of Rethymnon only 25 kilometers away or to Chania, 48 kilometers to the west.
For daily necessities, you can visit the small supermarket "Kontarida" in the village square. Kostas' shop is open every day from 8:00 till 21:00. Sunday afternoon the supermarket is closed.
You can also buy here a delicious ice cream or a cold bottle of water.
Next door to her parents' bakery, Vivian opened her hair salon for ladies, children and men. You can also contact Vivian for manicure, pedicure and bridal make-up.
The salon is open from 10:00 till 13:00 and from 17:00 till 21:00.
The salon is closed on Sunday.
Next to the kafenion you can discover a small shop. This dates from the time that there were no shops in the village at all. For the most important necessities of life people then went to the kafenion.
The range is no longer so extensive, but even now Dimitri Piperakis sells some important products, such as matches, flour, sugar and coffee.
His own use wine, raki and olive oil are also sold here.
The kafenion is open every day.
A little further on the right side of the street, Mimi Polentas is running his traditional bakery for many years. Every morning the fresh bread is ready for you. His son, Pantelis, delivers every morning the fresh bread in the village and in the area of Kournas. Katerina, the wife if the baker, is responsible for the traditional Cretan biscuits and the delicious, healthy "breadsticks".
Also the healthy Cretan "Paximadi", the double baked bread is baked here. The bakery is open every day, also on Sunday.
To complete this page I will mention "Mandali", the local shop, which you will find at the square, just next to the tavern "Kournas".
Mandali is open from 10:00 till 17:00 and on Sunday we are closed.
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... that there used to be many sources of water in Kournas?
... that there is a river flowing just outside Kournas that has water almost the whole year?
... that this river is called "Sfakas" and as soon as he leaves Kournas he is called "Kournas"?
... that the Kournas cave has been closed for more than 10 year due to the danger of collapse?
... that Kournas is at more than 200 meters altitude?
... that only a few streets in the village have a name?
... that Kournas has 11 churches?
... that there are donkeys in Kournas?
... that in Kournas there used to be more than 10 kafenions, several
small shops, 3 olive oil factories and a number of cheese factories?
... there is a walking path to Kavros and that it is marked with orange
... that the climate in Kournas is very healthy? Usually a cool breeze
in the summertime and low humidity in the winter.
... that the old walking path "Monopati Azilakas Street" was made
accessible again by volunteers of Kournas in 2011?
... that there is also a walking path to the lake of Kournas and that it
is also signed out with orange signs?
... that many residents still slaughter their chicken, pig or sheep at
... that Kournas has a cultural community that organizes various
... some of the activities are giving music- and dance lessons,
organizing excursions to special places in Crete and the annual
theatre performance of the Kournas Theater Group?
... that the houses do not have a number or a postbox?
... that the postman Manolis delivers most of the mail at the kafenion?
... that we pick up the mail here and then we also hear all the news ?
... that more than 50 foreigners permanently live in Kournas?
... that they come from, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, France, Norway, Albania, Austria and Belgium?
In the traditional mountain village of Kournas you won't see many tourist activities: there is no tourist office with organized trips, no car or bike rental, no souvenir shops, even a hotel you will not find here.
"What am I supposed to do," you may think. Well, nothing. You are allowed to "do" nothing in Kournas, just enjoy village life. Experience the tranquility, the space, the sound of the cock crowing and the music of the goat bells. Hear the music of the grocer to let you know that he is coming with his car and see the villagers enjoying everyday life.
In summer months, the daily life in the mountain villages of Kournas takes place mainly outdoors: around the house, in the garden, on the balcony, in the street or on the sidewalk in front of the house.
On the village square, on the terraces of the taverns and in the kafenions (village cafes) there are always visitors exchanging the latest news and gossip.
You are also welcome in the taverns, the cafe or on a bench in the square to find out how village life can be.
Kournas is a small village, where you can easily make a short or longer walk.
Just strolling through the narrow streets, walking criss-cross through the village or explore the village and surrounding area with a plan or a walking book. The choice is yours.
A map of the village and the area is available at Mandali and also a hiking booklet including two walks in Kournas is available here.
If you want to hear some information about the village and the village life, you are welcome at the village walk with Arno.
More information you can read here.
Almost every day Arno makes with his donkeys a botanical walk in the backyard of Kournas.
More information you can read on the page walking
You can make an adventurous walk in the forest and at the feet of the mountains just outside Kournas.
Here you can read more about this walk
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One of the most frequently asked questions from the tourists in Crete is: where are the donkeys? And this question is not so easy to answer. About 35 years ago, in Kournas, the donkeys were seen in all the streets and on the fields.
They ensured the transport of branches, raw materials and also of people.
One of our wishes was to have a couple of donkeys in the village, to take for a walk, who would help us carry the herbs and the water. Would not it be nice if we had a few donkeys in Kournas again?
For more than a year we were searching for donkeys, but this was not so easy. We wanted two donkeys because a donkey is a companion animal and does not like to be alone.
Finally, after a long search, we succeeded and since 2018 Arno and I are the proud owners of 2 donkeys.
Both donkeys are females and the eldest is called Eos, 10 years old and the youngest donkey listens (not always) to the name Cleo and she is 4 years old.
Last year, 2019, we also adopted a third donkey, named Popy (Penelopy). She is an older lady, 21 years old. She had a difficult life, but we hope she will forget about this here in Kournas. Popy is a smaller, Cretan donkey and she gets along with the others very well. She seems very happy with her new family.
At that time Kavros did not exist yet and the area on the coast was called "Paralia Kournas" (beach Kournas). In this agricultural area the farmers from Kournas cultivated their potatoes, watermelons, courgettes and also a lot of peanuts. During the harvest of the peanuts, the donkeys were loaded with the peanuts, they got a slap and walked uphill to Kournas. Here someone took the load of the donkey. He then got a slap and walked down again, to Kavros. They knew the way.
The children from Kournas also went to the beach riding a donkey. They left in the morning and at four o'clock the donkey began to bray and the children knew that it was time to return home.
The village of Kournas and the "back yard" offer plenty of opportunities for walks with donkeys and if you want to join them on one of the walks, read more information on the page walking
Almost 7 years ago three donkeys lived in Kournas. They were used by their owners as a beast of burden in the transportation of timber, harvest and tools. One man also used his donkey as a mean of transport. He could not walk so good anymore, but thanks to his donkey he could still go to his plot to work it. Unfortunately, these last 3 donkeys have died.
a foal in Kournas
On Thursday afternoon, April 3 2019, Cleo got her first foal. What a surprise!
Cleo was only 3 years old then, but she took care of her foal like an experienced mother: she never lost sight of her, adjusted her when she went the wrong way, sniffed her regularly to check if everything was ok, it was awesome!
In the stable
the foal is so curious
practising jumpin and kicking
Eos and Popy
We celebrated Zoë's first birthday on April 3 and we also gave the other 3 donkeys their birthday on that day.
They all got a delicious breakfast with carrots, cereals, orange peel, carob and some hard bread. They enjoyed it!
Although Zoë is now one year old, she still drinks milk several times with her mom, Cleo.
Almost every day we take the 4 donkeys for a walk in the back garden of Kournas or we take them to a meadow on the other side of the village where they can eat a lot of green wild vegetables.
We noticed last year that our donkeys are very popular: many enthusiast people for the botanical walks with the donkeys and also the postcards with the donkeys were quickly sold out.
So this year we have a new item: a calendar with many photos of our 4 donkeys.
The size of the calendar is 20 x 20 cm and it costs € 12.50 (excl. shipping costs € 3,-).
Do you want to enjoy the special photos of Eos, Popy, Cleo and Zoë all year round? Write us an email with your address and we will send you the calendar.
This year Barbara will make the adventurous botanical walk EXTRA on request only. This walk is possible at 8:00 a.m. in the morning and in the afternoon at 15:00 p.m. We start at "Mandali", in the village square and the walk will last about 2,5 hour.
The walk is also suitable for children from ± 6 years.
Please sent me a message, or call me to make a reservation.
With normal, sturdy shoes you can easily walk this route. Do not forget your camera and/or binoculars, and also a bottle of water can be useful because sometimes it can be warm going uphill.
If you like walking with a walking stick, take it with you. A stick can be useful in some places. If you didn't bring your walking stick, you can choose a stick at "Mandali" and use it during the walk.
We walk at a calm pace and stop at beautiful, unusual plants, fragrant flowers, ancient trees and spicy herbs. Every season, every month, even every week, nature changes its color and its smell. That makes this herb walk so fascinating: we never know what nature will show us.
Often we encounter the goats and sheep on our path or we see and hear them on the mountain slopes. Birds of prey such as buzzards and vultures often fly above our heads.
The walk takes us slowly uphill and at the highest point, we have a beautiful view over the village of Kournas and the coast of the Almyros Bay.
Through a narrow goat path we descend to the forest with ancient oaks, plane trees, "strawberry trees" and in autumn a lot of mushrooms.
Following the footpath called "Azilakas Street," we walk into the forest.
This trail is maintained by volunteers of Kournas and, if necessary, again equipped with handrails and "stair steps".
The name "Azilakas" is the Greek word for stone-oak and we will a lot of them.
We walk in the forest high above and along the river "Sfakas" in which water flows almost all year round. A few times we even will cross the small river. Until in June you will see many small waterfalls in the river.
The narrow path goes uphill and downhill and takes us along an old lime kiln.
Once we leave the forest we walk on the broader dirt roads past olive trees and vineyards back towards Kournas.
"Azilakas Street" through the forest
downhill towards the forest
In the morning Arno walks with the donkeys in the direction of the back yard of Kournas to show you which herbs, plants, flowers and trees you can find here. The walk takes about 2 hours, with several stops.
We walk on dirt roads and asphalt, so also your children can also enjoy this walk.
This botanical walk is on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and starts at "Mandali" on the village square at 10:00 am and at about 12:00 you are back here again.
Donkeys do not like rain and strong winds, so on wet, stormy days the donkeys stay on their land or in the stable.
Cleo and her Foal will also join you at the walk.
The village of Kournas and the surrounding area offer plenty of opportunities for short and longer walks. You can choose what suits you: a walk on your own, a botanical walk together with Arno and his donkeys, a villagewalk with Arno or together with Barbara you can make an adventurous botanical walk EXTRA
Two apartments, traditionally built and nicely furnished, with a beautiful view and located in the center of the village of Kournas. New is the swimming pool with terrace.
The apartments can also be rented as a large home for a large family or large group of friends.
A beautifully renovated stone house with traditional elements and modern decor. On the terrace you have a beautiful view on the 'backyard' of the village. Here you can also enjoy the swimming pool on the roofterrace.
This villa, renovated in Cretan style, was completely renovated in 2014 and also has a swimming pool.
A magnificent view on the sea and the mountains, plenty of privacy and tranquility make your holiday unforgettable.
If you want to discover more in and around Kournas and enjoy village life at your leisure, you can book your next holiday here. Scattered throughout the village there are beautiful holiday homes available: for singles, for couples and groups of friends or for large and small families.
I have collected a couple of websites of holiday homes for you and who knows, maybe we will meet each other this summer in Kournas.
A modern Villa with amazing sea view and mountain view, a private heated pool, a BBQ dining terrace and a good fixed line internet.
The Villa has 3 double bedrooms with en-suites toilet, shower and toilet.
This villa is built in a valley on the outskirts of the village, with a beautiful, colorful garden, with a swimming pool and several sun terraces.
The villa has 3 bedrooms.
This villa is suitable for a large family or group of friends. Spread over 3 floors there are 5 bedrooms. The villa is built in Cretan style with all the luxury you want.
The house is on the edge of the village and also has a swimming pool and a large garden with terraces.
A family house in the centre of Kournas lovely decorated in Cretan style. The house has a beautiful mountain view, a private courtyard, a garden with well, pergola and BBQ and wood oven. There are 3 bedrooms and the maximum of guests is 6.
In the area of Kournas you will find much more for an unforgettable holiday and the most interesting items you will see on this page. Also some more general and useful information on Crete you will find here.
The island Crete has so much to offer you and I can imagine it is difficult for you to choose: what to do, where to go and what to see. I will try to help you by giving you some links to websites with good information about spectacular excursions, nice experiences, special places and much more ...
It is very easy to discover Crete on your own. In a lot of places you can rent a car or motorcycle and plan your own discovery-trip. Also with a moped you can make beautiful tours through the small villages in the area.
You don't have to travel for hours to taste the real Crete! In the area of Kournas you can enjoy some adventurous trips.
A spectacular experience is the day-trip with Georgioupolis Safari.
Your driver Stelios let you discover, smell and taste the real Crete.
This day will become unique and unforgetable.
On the internet you can find a lot of information about Crete, the beautiful nature and special places to visit.
Some websites deserve extra attention and that is the reason that I would like to share these most remarkable and extensive websites with you.
If you want to spend a realxing day on the water, you can book a boat-trip with captain Georgios on his yacht "Aphrodite"
You can swim, snorkel, relax in the sun, visit caves and try to catch a fish.
You always dreamed of an exciting beach ride, a mini-safari or a riding holiday?
Zoraida Horse Riding can
offer you various riding trips.
Even beginners or non-experienced riders are welcome.
At the stations of Talos Express you can discover the nature and culture of Crete by travelling with the little train.
You can visit the lake of Kournas and also the villages in the area.
Every day there are several walks in and around
For a sporty day out, please contact Nikos bycicles in Kavros.
He has for you a bike with many gears and a handy map with routes in the area.
I hope the information on this page is useful for you and I hope you will have got some inspiration for your next holiday.
I wish you a lot of fun preparing your holiday on Crete and If you have questions, I am here to help you.
Also suggestions, additions or interesting information are always welcome.
If you like walking in the area of Kournas, you can have a look at the walking guide written by Victor Law. He lives in Kastellos, a small village next to Kournas and he discovered a lot of walking paths in the area of Petres, Kato Poros, Embrosneros and the Mousellas river. Even a "coast to coast" walk is included.
You can read the map here and you are free to download it for personal use.
a very comprehensive website with beautiful pictures and a lot of information about Crete.
a lot of information about Crete and the mainland of Greece, with a lot of pictures and a helpful community.
a complete travel guide for Crete, with an
up-to-date travel app
flowers of Crete
with beautiful pictures and a lot of information about the special and endemic flowers of Crete
Wild herbs of Crete
the workshop-tavern on the Kallikratis mountains, where Babis and Janina sell their herbs and more.
with information about Crete and also recipes and a cultural agenda.
where fruit trees, herbs, flowers and medicinal plants are growing like in paradise. There is a tavern with delicious food.
To promote tourism on Crete there were made some very beautiful movies about Crete and some of them even won prices on the Tourism Film Festival
One of them I can show you here. When you watch it on YouTube you will discover the other special movies about all the aspects of beautiful Crete.
Op het YouTube kanaal van Mandali staan nog meer video's over Kournas, de omgeving en Kreta in het algemeen.
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We would like to grow with our store Mandali and the activities we organise in Kournas and would like to get more name recognition. We therefore appeal to you to help us.
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I send the Mandali Mail once a month and topics that were discussed in previous newsletters were items like Cretan Mountain Tea, Oregano, How are olives harvested and pressed? What is a komboloi? Life in Crete in the winter.
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